What Is THE OCCUPANT And Why Has It Sparked A Bidding War?

The movie rights to Victor Sweetser’s short story have become a hot commodity in Hollywood.

By Ryan Scott · @RyanScottWrites · February 10, 2023, 6:36 PM EST
Photo Credit: Forsaken Fotos Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

It is not often that first-time authors can say that their work will be adapted into a major motion picture. Even more rare for such a thing to spring from an as-of-yet unpublished short story, with a slew of A-list producers chomping at the bit to land the rights to said story. But that’s exactly what’s going on right now with The Occupant, the debut tale from author Victor Sweetser, according to Deadline. While we don’t know who will land the rights just yet, the list of people in the running is downright mind-blowing.

The 39-page haunted house story hit the market recently, and, in practically no time at all, interest in the movie rights went through the roof. So, who are the interested parties? Zach Cregger (Barbarian), Roy Lee (It, The Ring), Lindsay Beer (untitled Pet Sematary origin movie), Neal Moritz (I Am Legend, Goosebumps), Gary Dauberman (Annabelle Comes Home) and Walter Hamada (Friday the 13th, Final Destination 5) are all “circling bids as producers,” as are the duo of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (The Boys, Preacher). That is an absolute murderer’s row of A-list talent - and that may not even be everyone looking to bid on this thing! So, what on Earth, exactly, is at the heart of this bidding war?

There is no word yet on how much is being offered for the rights, but the subject matter on the page must be damned impressive to generate this sort of interest. While the story isn’t out there in the world to be read by the masses, the outlet did publish a pretty thorough synopsis, which at least gives us some idea of what got these producers all hot and bothered.


“This is the story of a 100-year-old Victorian home offered up for free, with the caveat the new owner has to put it on a flatbed and move it from the lot it occupies. The story begins cleverly with texts back and forth between a husband and a wife, who cannot get over their good luck to be chosen to take the house. Naturally, we learn there is no such thing as a free house. The narrator is a teen named Chloe, who lives in the town where the home is being moved. She and her boyfriend Mason are disappointed to see it’s going to be plopped onto The Shole, their nickname for the shithole empty lot where the neighborhood kids go to drink, smoke and lose their virginity. They decide to explore the structure before the homeowners move in. In a yarn that is one part Poltergeist mixed in with Stephen King, they learn the house is haunted, and its supernatural occupant begins to turn itself loose on members of its new neighborhood, with horrifying results. It becomes a full-fledged scare fest.”

Admittedly, it’s easy to see how that could be fuel for a damn fine movie. What’s really interesting is thinking about just how radically different the final product could be. What would this look like in the hands of Cregger, the guy who made the utterly bonkers Barbarian? One has to imagine it would be worlds different in the hands of Rogen and Goldberg, and these are all people just looking to produce. Who will wind up in the director’s chair? It’s all so undefined right now. That only adds to the curiosity, given the frenzy that has emerged behind the scenes in this story. Needless to say, we’ll be watching with great interest as this unfolds.


No word yet on where The Occupant will end up, but stay tuned as we’ll be sure to follow up with this one as more details come our way.